Photo: Bob Leverone/NASCAR via Getty Images

Up to Speed: Previewing the Inaugural Bank of America ROVAL 400 at Charlotte

By David Morgan, NASCAR Editor

There are numerous adjectives that can be used to describe this weekend’s race on the new Charlotte Motor Speedway road course: unpredictable, volatile, treacherous, chaotic, etc. Once thing is for sure as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series ventures into the unknown, it’s going to be a hell of a ride.

In an effort to spice things up this season, Charlotte officials elected to switch from running another race on the 1.5-mile oval to creating what they are calling the ROVAL, incorporating both the high banks of the oval with the track’s infield road course. What emerged is a 2.28-mile, 17-turn behemoth that will push the drivers to their limits as they battle to become the first to conquer the beast.

Teams had an opportunity to test at the track earlier this year, but as you can see below, they’ve had a rough go of things in their first experiences with the layout.

Not only will Sunday’s Bank of America ROVAL 400 be the first race of its kind at Charlotte, it also serves as the cut-off race for the first round of the Cup Series Playoffs, throwing a completely new challenge into the mix. Sixteen drivers will enter will their championship hopes intact, but by the time the checkered flag flies, four of them will be eliminated.

After Richmond, three drivers are locked into the next round on either wins or points (Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, and Martin Truex, Jr.), while Charlotte will be a crucial crossroads for the remaining drivers in the Playoffs.

By the Numbers

What: Bank of America ROVAL 400, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race No. 29 of 36

Where: Charlotte Motor Speedway – Concord, North Carolina (First race: 1960)

When: Sunday, September 30

TV/Radio: NBC, 2:00 pm ET / PRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Channel 90

Track Size: 2.28-mile, 17-turn road course

Banking: 24 degrees in oval turns, five degrees on oval straightaways

Race Length: 109 laps, 248.52 miles

Stage Lengths: First two stages: 25 laps each – Final stage: 59 laps

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Standings

  1. Brad Keselowski (Locked into Round 2 – Vegas win)
  2. Kyle Busch (Locked into Round 2 – Richmond win)
  3. Martin Truex, Jr. (Locked into Round 2 – Points)
  4. Kevin Harvick (+57)
  5. Joey Logano (+25)
  6. Aric Almirola (+23)
  7. Kyle Larson (+17)
  8. Kurt Busch (+15)
  9. Chase Elliott (+10)
  10. Austin Dillon (+10)
  11. Alex Bowman (+5)
  12. Ryan Blaney (+4)
  13. Clint Bowyer (-4)
  14. Jimmie Johnson (-6)
  15. Erik Jones (-21)
  16. Denny Hamlin (-29)

From the Driver’s Seat

“We’re all going into it with no real experience there,” said Aric Almirola. “It’s an unknown and all of the drivers are a little nervous about it. For the fans, the most exciting part is the track’s narrow and low on grip, so it’s a bit sketchy. We’re going to be beating and banging trying to battle for position in the slow, technical parts of the infield and we’re going to be flying around the oval part. It’s going to be interesting.”

Weekend Schedule (All Times Eastern)

Friday, September 28

  • MENCS Practice (12:05 pm to 12:55 pm – NBC Sports Network)
  • MENCS Qualifying (4:45 pm – NBC Sports Network)

Saturday, September 29

  • MENCS Practice (11:00 am to 11:50 am – NBC Sports App)
  • MENCS Final Practice (1:30 pm to 2:20 pm – CNBC)

Sunday, September 30

  • MENCS Bank of America ROVAL 400 (2:00 pm – 109 laps, 248.52 miles – NBC)

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David Morgan is the Associate Editor for Motorsports Tribune. A 2008 graduate from the University of Mississippi, David has followed NASCAR since the early 90’s and became hooked at an early age after attending his first race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993. He has traveled across the country since 2012 to cover some of the most prestigious events both IndyCar and NASCAR have to offer, with an aim to only expand on that in the near future.